Home In Disarray

April 30, 2013

Photos of the pets

Photos of the pets

We had some friends over on Saturday, and one of our buddies with his fantsy camera too a few shots of the creatures that we have daftly decided to share our home with.

Silly Malamute
Helo has a conversation with our friend’s girlfriend

Which dog shall claim Jen as his own?

Lazy Malamute
Silly Helo

Traditional Siamese Perry
Perry the cat

Malamute mutt mix
Boris is such a sweet boy

And a couple more photos that I took on my cell phone over the last few weeks.  Helo is always very careful not to disturb Perry.  He even lets the cat drink out the water before he goes for it.

curled up malamute sleeping next to a cat
Perry runs the show.

dog sleeping on stuffed dog
This is Boris’ favorite toy, his crusty stuffed doggy from ikea.  

Posted in: The Creatures
April 17, 2013

Clean eating meal planning

Clean eating meal planning

So… we’ve been doing this clean eating thing for a few months now, and let me tell you… it’s time consuming.    It’s also pretty hellish if you do not make a plan as there’s not really any convenience food sitting around the house.  We’ve redoubled our efforts in meal planning, and I figured I’d share a few photos that I snapped over the last few days.

Grating zucchini

Friday, I tried a recipe for zucchini tots that I found on pinterest.  I love zucchini fritters/patties, and these are basically the same recipe I use for those, except baked in a mini-muffin tin.  I have a somewhat recent obsession with “mini food” after watching Mermaids for the first time in a couple decades, and these just looked so fun and so festive.  Unfortunately, the most important part of the recipe seems to have been left out.  And that part is to USE A NONSTICK MINI MUFFIN TIN.  It turns out that no matter how much olive oil you spray your tin with, your “tots” will stick if you tin is a standard aluminum variety.

Zucchini tots

I had a little extra zucchini mixture when I had finished filling my muffin tin, so I decided to pan fry it and snack while we prepped the other parts of our dinner.  The standard patties were fabulous.  I did not take finished photos of the “tots” that I had to rip to shreds and generally mangle to get out of the tin, which I then had to soak overnight and scrub the crap out of to get the stuck-on zucchini and egg bits out of the tiny little holes.  Fuck zucchini tots.

Zucchini tots

The meal plan goes as such:

Tuesday – Lemon quinoa salad with asparagus and tomatoes + fish (if i can find a good sale) or chicken 
Wednesday- Fit salad thing 
Thursday – Lettuce wrap with chicken, basil-arugula pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella 
Friday – Quinoa with edamameparm & egg  
Monday – Kale & Quinoa salad with grilled meat/fish 
Lunches and shit –  
cucumber/tomato/avocado/cottage cheese mixture
Lemon quinoa salad with asparagus and tomatoes + chicken

I did my big grocery trip for the week and set about prepping for the week’s meals and snacks, as well as prepping components for the dogs’ meals, as we’ll be out of town this weekend and my mother in law will be feeding and hanging out with them, so simplicity is key.

I spent last night cutting up 3lbs strawberries; ripping up a bunch of kale; roasting sweet potatoes, cubed beets, and cubed butternut squash; steaming broccoli, cutting up ham, grating cheese, and whisking eggs for the mini crustless quiches I made(in a nonstick muffin tin); washing and drying fruits and vegetables before putting them away; sauteing beet greens and kale for doggy dinners; and peeling oranges and bananas, then portioning things out into baggies for preportioned smoothie packs for the freezer.

Homemade smoothie packs

Posted in: Baking, Cooking, Food, Kitchen
April 17, 2013

Pretty Pretty Flowers

Pretty Pretty Flowers

Last autumn was the first time I’ve planted fall bulbs.  In fact, it’s the only thing I got done in the yard after my appendix bit the dust in October. After the dreary(but not particularly cold) winter, I was thrilled to have some early spring bloomers coming up!  The tulip mixture was supposed to be white(not yellow) and purple (not magenta), thus fitting into the purple/blue/white color scheme that I have very carefully adhered to in the front yard.  I’m willing to give them a pass though, considering they’re the ONLY thing besides daffodils blooming in the front this time of year.

Tulips in a whiskey bottle

The daffodils are very nice.  And have an interesting quality that I’m sure I’ve seen before on other daffodils, but wasn’t important until it existed on MINE.  That is, instead of one medium/large flower per stem, there are 3-4 small flowers.  It makes getting a lot of blooms into a container with a small opening such as empty liquor bottles much easier.

white daffodils
Another thing about daffodils, which I hadn’t thought of or at least connected the dots on, is I think I figured out why their linnaean name is Narcissus.  Remember the Greek Myth of Narcissus, the hunter, who was a hotty, but a total jerk?  He was such a jerk that a god drew him to a pool and he fell in love with his reflection staring back at him, and was unable to leave.  Daffodils tend to look down.  Coincidence?  I think not!

white daffodils
We finally replaced the red credenza with a white one, you can see it in the background.  AND… the finish is more of an eggshell or satin sheen, so dust is much less visible.  WIN.

Tulips and daffodils in liquor bottles on marble coffee table

Posted in: Decorating, Garden, House
April 9, 2013

Favorite vintage find

Favorite vintage find

Victoria Elizabeth Barnes is definitely my favorite blogger at the moment.  She has a hilarious blog that details the trials, tribulations, disagreements, and conquests of renovating their Victorian house.  She’s hosting a good old-fashioned link party, where other bloggers share their favorite Craigslist finds on her blog, generating more traffic for everyone.  Crafty Crafty lady.

I have to tell you, this is not from Craigslist, this is from my mother in law.  She was out garage saling with her best friend when they came across this great mid century chair.  They texted me a photo of it and quickly followed up by a telephone call that went something like this:
MIL: Did you get our picture?
Me: I’m in the shower.. let me look now.
MIL: What do you think?
Me: That’s a pretty rad chair.
MIL: Do you want us to get it for you?
Me: I’m pretty sure Craig would divorce me if I brought more furniture into the house.
MIL: No, it’s fine.
Me:  I think it’s gorgeous, but I really don’t have a good spot for it yet.
MIL: But it’s so comfortable.  It looks really nice!
Me: I agree.  Your son would be furious.
MIL: Ok, fine.

Vintage Mid Century Dux Teak Chair

5 minutes later.
MIL: We bought the chair.  We got it for $5!!!!
Me: (secretly thrilled) Craig is going to be mad, but it’s beautiful!
MIL: We’ll be there in half an hour to drop it off.
Me: See you then, thanks!

5 minutes later.
Me: Your mom bought that chair that I told her not to buy
Craig: WTF, we don’t need ANOTHER chair.
Me: YOUR mother bought it.  I told her not to.
Craig: You can’t keep it.
Me: I’ll fix it up and sell it on craigslist.
Craig: You better.

45 minutes later.
MIL: Here, come check out the chair!
Me: Ooh, that’s gorgeous!
Craig: That upholstery is disgusting.  And Helo’s going to eat it.
Me: Silly you, it’s not going in the house, it’ll stay in the garage (amidst the huge mess of tiles and other old furniture) til I get it cleaned up.  I wonder if it’s worth anything. *turning it over to find DUX tag*
MIL: Well?
Me: Gotta go look that up! Come in the house.

2 minutes later.
Me: Oh, yeah.  It’s worth like $700.
Craig: *a little less upset*
MIL: Maybe the other stuff we got at that garage sale is worth money too!(it wasn’t.)

It’s been in the garage for a solid month.  I still can’t quite bring myself to get rid of it.  Oh yeah, and it turns out the chair’s a Dux and is worth between $400 and $800.  And it’s SO comfortable and SO pretty (if you can overlook the red bedsheets that the cushions are upholstered in.  I can’t leave it in the house because I am pretty sure Helo would eat it, and that would be criminal.  I may clear out some of my horde in the spare bedroom and stash it in there til Helo dies.  I really DID intend to clean up the wood and sell it, but I brought it out when Craig’s family was visiting for Easter and they ALL encouraged us to keep it.  We’ve only got 5ish more years with the dogs and this is a 50 year old piece of art.  And it IS beautiful.  I still can’t make up my mind.

Updated – I have to tell you all this…. I posted this yesterday morning and had no intention of telling Craig about the post or that I had more or less decided to keep the chair (as we won’t be able to use it/keep it out for the next 5-7 years). We were in the car yesterday and he mentions that the chair was designed by Folk Ohlsson, a designer for Dux, and his designs are among the most sought-after ones.  I’m assuming that he read the post and now suspects that I have no intentions of actually getting rid of it, but I’m not going to say anything.

Posted in: Decorating, DIY, House, Projects
April 8, 2013

Our kitchen and living room

Our kitchen and living room

They are not done.  Well… the living room is pretty close to being done.  And the kitchen is close, but neither are complete.  But let’s be honest…. it took me 3 months to share our countertop with you, I STILL haven’t shared any photos of the second phase of juniper removal, and I am a master procrastinator.  If I hadn’t taken advantage of the house being the cleanest it’s been in the last few years (my mother has visited twice in the last couple weeks and is a much better housekeeper than me) this afternoon, it’s unlikely that I’d be sharing any photos of the house for months and months and months.  The kitchen still needs some sanding and a few coats of paint on the new island, door and drawer fronts, plus an actual counter.  These are 3 pieces of leftover granite from my dad’s kitchen remodel instead of a real counter.  I’ve been on the lookout for a good remnant of soapstone that’s not like a million dollars. So far no luck.


The color on the dark walls is Man Cave by Valspar, and the lighter grey is Balboa Mist by Sherwin Williams.  I think they’re both pretty great.  The whole island at one point was a drywalled pantry. The color on all of the cabinets is Bavarian Cream by Benjamin Moore.

Since we moved in, the kitchen has undergone the following changes:
Wall knocked down to half-wall between dining and family room.
Counters and sink replaced
New doors and drawer fronts installed and everything painted white
New door and drawer hardware
New flooring
New light fixtures
Pantry knocked out and island installed in its place



Below you’ll see the living room.  Nothing much has been done in here in terms of actual renovations.  We still have the popcorn ceiling, basically all we’ve done are furniture/style improvements, which we’re both pretty happy with.

I’ve pretty much decided that this is the biggest 1400 sq ft house in existence.  We both love the layout.  I work in the real estate industry, and every now and again do searches for homes nearby on acreage.  So far I can’t find anything that I like remotely as much as our place (that’s not to say it’s done!).  I wish we could just buy some land and then move our house onto it.

Mid Century living room reno

Hutch from a consignment shop, chair and ottoman a hand-me-down from my in-laws, sofa and floor lamp from ikea, rug from ikea, painting homemade, end table from a garage sale, and coffee table homemade.  Flowers from the yard, blanket and pillows were mostly homemade. We haven’t been buying wood furniture because our super cute dog Helo has a tendency to eat it.  We put a TV on the wall facing the sofa and needed a credenza of some sort to go under it and hold our components and cables etc.  Ikea had the perfect thing.  It used to come in white, but had been discontinued and was only sold in red.  So we got that and counted on spraying it blue. After living with it for a while, we figured we’d see if we could find a white one used, then I got a response to my craigslist wanted post saying that the white ones had be recontinued… So I drove to Ikea yesterday morning due to the “in stock” status on the website.  Unfortunately they were sold out, but should have 23 more in a few days…. so I get to go BACK down there, get the white one, then get the red one sold… So imagine that this red one is creamy white.


Ikea PS Cabinet

April 7, 2013

Let me tell you how I feel about my Blanco Silgranit sink

Blanco silgranit sink

So we got a chunk of money when we got married, as we had requested cash to renovate the kitchen as wedding gifts instead of stuff we already had (we’re classy like that).  Anyway, we spent the money replacing the leatherette textured laminate counters with granite, and the builder-grade stainless sink with something magical.  I know that you often find people discussing how much they like XYZ as they are installing something or right after doing so.  I figured I’d let you know how I feel about everything in my sink area after having spent 2+ years heavily using it.

blanco silgranit sink

First… The sink… I think it’s FABULOUS. We wanted to do an undermount sink with the granite counter.  I don’t like stainless because it always looks dirty, and it scratches/dents easily, plus we don’t have stainless anywhere else in the kitchen, plus… it’s LOUD!  I don’t like enamel coated cast iron as it scratches and chips easily, and I am exceptionally clumsy. It would only be a matter of time before I had a chipped up sink that was scratched to hell and difficult/expensive to remove and replace.  We ended up going with a material that Blanco calls Silgranit, which is basically a stone and acrylic composite.  It is heat and scratch resistant.  I believe that the color we chose was biscuit, because I didn’t want to get white and have it look skanky dirty all the time.  It was a great choice, IMO, though I don’t know anyone else with this particular sink material, so I can’t make any assertions regarding whether it’s the best color.  We got a super deep single bowl offset drain sink.  It’s huge.  Really huge.  It easily fits a half-sized sheet pan, or 2 huge frying pans sitting flat.  It’s massive.  When the sink is full of dirty dishes, the dishes will more than fill the dishwasher, which is pretty inconvenient.  But that’s more a testament to my shitty housekeeping skills than it is to the quality of the sink.

silgranit sink scratches

In the last several months, the sink has developed a couple small nicks or scratches around the drain area.  They collect dirty stuff and look ugly.  The benefit of the silgranit is that it can easily be sanded down and the scratches will no longer be visible.  They don’t bother me enough for me to bother getting out the wet sandpaper and actually sand anything, so I haven’t bothered.  The only other “thing” that I’ve noticed with it is if I’m scrubbing something metal (cast iron pan, aluminum sheet pans, etc), they will leave little metaly smeary marks being on the sink, as it has just the slightest texture.  They also come off super easily with a little light scrubbing with the back side of a sponge or a nylon bristled dish brush. I imagine that with a darker color they’d be far less evident, however soap scum would be more evident, so ya win some, ya lose some.

Ok, the faucet….  I have mixed feelings about this faucet.  We basically just picked a faucet from Lowes (we had a gift card) that was oil rubbed bronze, this approximate shape, and only made one hole (I didn’t want more).  This one is fine.  It’s not great, but it works fine.  I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone just because I’m not sure it’s any better than the average, but it does the trick.  Here are my opinions on it.  It does one neat thing.  You can have it on the “spray” setting, and turn it off.  When you turn the faucet back on, the spray setting has reset back to the standard stream.  That keeps you from accidentally getting massive splashback and soaking yourself. That’s a win.

Moen Oil Rubbed Bronze (ORB) faucet

Now here are the things that I DON’T like about it.  It has a button next to the spray/normal button that allows it to go into a pot fill type mode where it flows more water than normal, but this button has to remain depressed manually.  It will spring back to a normal fill mode if you let go.  The faucet is capable of flowing more water but by design purposefully keeps you from doing so the majority of the time.  Not only that, but it has the ability to auto-off the spray mode, why not auto-off the turbo mode and not have to hold that motherfucker down?  WTF Moen? The faucet thingy regularly falls out and hangs down.  I’m not sure if this is related to the amount of counterweight on the stainless hose or another bad design feature.  Either way, it’s a commonly noted problem with this faucet, and annoying as fuck.  The majority of the time, it looks like this as it will come undone any time you use it.  I initially pushed it back in every time.  I don’t anymore.  When I come up with things to stop spending money on (LOL) I will start looking into other faucets.  As it is, I can live with it, but would prefer something that had more thoughtful design(and looked a little more consistent with the rest of our fixtures in style).

Moen Oil Rubbed Bronze (ORB) faucet


The drain….  It’s a pile of shit.  It drains slowly (the drain in the other sink drained at approximately double the speed of this one) and scratches easily.  It used to look ORB when we bought it. As it has scratched (the whole top surface is now copper colored), you can now see that it’s made of 2 different types of metal as well, copper and brass.  Luckily it was only like $20. This will get switched out when we get a new faucet (probably right before we sell the house).

The soap dispenser.  We have a simple human soap dispenser.  Craig wanted it for his birthday (reason #864 you’re getting old) so his parents bought it for him.  I was vehemently opposed to a stupid looking automatic soap dispenser.  I had a squeeze bottle that I kept my dishsoap in and didn’t need anything else.  But then we got it…. and it was pretty neat.  It dispenses onto a scrubby brush or a sponge, so I really had little use for a squeeze bottle.  I grew to love it.  Then 8 months later when it hemorrhaged all of the soap out and totally stopped working, I was forlorn.  I emailed Simple Human and they sent us a call tag, looked at the broken dispenser, and replaced it with a newer model.  All in all, we were without it for over a month, and it was disastrous.  When the new soap dispenser arrived, it was as though the clouds parted in the skies, the sun shone brighter, and angels began singing.  I was thrilled.  Downside- it always looks dirty due to the stainless and chrome color scheme.  Seriously, why couldn’t they have gone with a simple matte white?  Oh, and the motion of wiping that chrome surface triggers the sensor and squirts more soap out.  The upside is they have great customer service.  [update] The pictured pump finally died around 10/2014.  When I went to buy a replacement (immediately) I found that not only had they “fixed” the design issue with the chrome plate, they had come out with a white version, and cut the price in half, I assume because there are numerous other automatic soap dispensers on the market and they had to stay competitive.  Despite the new unit being half the price, the quality appears to be very similar, and I am even happier with the newer model than the older one due to them changing the color and making the new unit a little smaller.[/edit]

Simple Human Soap Dispenser
I cleaned this off like 2 days ago.

OK, so my basic rundown after 2+ years of use of my kitchen sink area –
Blanco Silgranit single-bowl sink – BUY BUY BUY
Moen Faucet – Eh, whatever
Drain – don’t bother
Simple Human soap dispenser – good stuff, though it may fail and you will be without one while SH replaces or repairs it.

April 7, 2013

Tasty lemon asparagus risotto with fried egg

Tasty lemon asparagus risotto with fried egg

This was a pretty good idea if I may say so myself.  I’m going to spare you the rundown on my technique, as if you’re likely to try this dish, you either have already obsessively read about how to make a proper risotto, or you’re not likely to listen to my input.  If you’re not likely to try this dish, then you probably don’t give a shit about how much stock I used and how fine a dice to use on the onion.  I just used the juice and zest of a whole (albeit fairly old and shrively) lemon and added it in with the white wine.  The asparagus I just cut up into sections and sauteed with a little bit of butter and topped the risotto with it (I’m glad I did, Craig decided that he preferred it without, and I decided that I preferred it with way more than “some”) then I topped it with a fried egg.  Overall, one of my favorite dishes.  Simple, easy, tasty, minimally messy.

Lemon asparagus risotto with fried egg

Posted in: Cooking, Food